A growing number of students from Milpitas High School, Calaveras Hills High School and Milpitas Middle College High School are taking advantage of what Milpitas Unified School District’s Dual Enrollment program with San Jose Evergreen Community College District has to offer: earning a high school diploma and college credits simultaneously.
“It is about getting a headstart,” said 16-year-old MHS junior Damian Elizondo, who is taking college courses for the first time this semester. “Overall, it has been a great experience.”
On a typical school day, a Dual Enrollment student will take four high school classes in the morning and then head to the SJCC-Milpitas Extension for two Dual Enrollment classes, which are the equivalent of 20 (each class is worth 10) high school credits. For students needing transportation from one school to the other, SJCC-Milpitas Extension Director Michael Mooney was able to get them Eco-bus passes, and Principal Karisa Scott assures that they are connected.
“To graduate high school and start off college already having units it’s a deal that I could not pass up,” said 17-year-old CHHS senior Aeries Xiong. “The administration here is amazing and so supportive. The teachers allow us to be more independent in doing our work. I love it.”
Principal Scott, who oversees about 250 total students between her duties as Dual Enrollment Coordinator, Middle College HS Principal and MUSD Virtual Pathways Secondary Coordinator, recognizes the benefits of having such a program. After two years, a full-time student will amass over 20 college units that count as both college and high school credit.
“My hope is that every student is able to realize they can access college courses while still in high school, and that they recognize and overcome any barriers to achieve their goals,” Scott said. “We have the support and resources for them to be successful. We offer peer tutoring, free college textbooks and materials, college counseling services, and have students self-assess via progress reports. We also work collaboratively with SJCC to build a community for students here at our beautiful joint use campus."
There are currently three Dual Enrollment pathways including Computer Science (Technest), Education/Social Work and General Education. Classes are established in collaboration with the SJCC Extension to ensure students can take all the courses necessary to fulfill their pathway.
“I teach them how to be successful in college and show them the resources and programs that are available,” said Professor Zaina Hamid, who teaches Guidance 130 College Success. “College is a mystery to them. We give them an insider view that helps ease them into college.”
MCHS junior Nandana Kurup, 16, said she found out about Dual Enrollment from a presentation and the opportunity intrigued her so she decided to find out more about it.
“I’m the first person in my family to go to college in the United States. My family [attended college] in India,” said Kurup, who enjoys the college environment. “They have different expectations in college. You get to do it your way, but you’ve got to be on top of things.”
Fellow MCHS junior Kaitlyn Nguyen, 16, was drawn to the variety of courses offered in Dual Enrollment. “I get to choose what classes I take and what not to take,” she said.
Those interested in discovering if Dual Enrollment is right for them should visit https://mmchs.musd.org/dual-enrollment or contact Karisa Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org and set up an appointment today.
Let the Organelle Games begin!
Students in Karen Truesdell’s AP Biology Class were on point when arguing why their assigned cell organelle was “The Most Important Organelle” in the cell and the organism.
Some created catchy slogans for their campaign such as “Remember to vote Chloroplast because they make life last,” or “[Lysosomes] we digest the best and remove the rest,” or “[Nucleus] we are all about you before us,” or “[Ribosomes], we make the most beautiful human a human can be.”
With much vigor and knowledge of their organelle, students campaigned in front of their class and sought to convince their peers that they were the most important element in a cell. Posters championing the greatness of their specific organelles hung from the ceiling and the walls as students stated their case in Ms. Truesdell’s classroom.
After the last speech concluded, each organelle student group had two votes, one for their organelle and one for another of their choosing.
“I’m hoping they get a little more in-depth understanding of the parts of the cell and that they’re showing courage in different ways to write about those details and articulate them in public speaking,” said Ms. Truesdell. “This was really well done, and this is the first year we’ve done this.”
“The students’ wit, critical thinking and oratory skills made the learning experience delightful to observe,” and Superintendent Jordan went on to say, ”this is a fantastic example of what students can do when they become co-designers of their learning.”
By Kaila Schwartz
MHS Theatre Director
A wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity awaits Milpitas High School Theatre students, with a long-awaited performance at the American High School Theatre Festival (AHSTF) in Edinburgh, Scotland.
And I, Theatre Director Kaila Schwartz, would like to make sure any MHS thespians who are interested will be able to experience this world renowned festival in all its glory.
First a little background: In the early spring of 2020, for the second time, our MHS Theatre students were selected by a board of governors – after an intensive application process – to perform as part of the Festival Fringe in Scotland. Unfortunately, due to COVID concerns, our trip was postponed.
But now, it’s time to start gearing up for summer 2023, when we will once again create an original play and take it to the festival! Who’s with me?
I was in Edinburgh this summer right at the beginning of this year’s festival for a meeting of theatre directors who will be bringing students to perform next year, and it is just as awesome as ever!
What is the Festival Fringe?
75 years ago, as an artistic response to the destructive impact of WWII, the Edinburgh International Festival was created as a means to bring the world together through music, theatre, opera, and dance. A group of Scottish locals wanted to perform at this festival, but they weren’t admitted, so they began their own festival… one that would celebrate the performing arts on the fringes of the International Festival. No adjudication required. Hence, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was born. “Since the dawn of this spontaneous artistic movement, millions have flocked to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to produce, and to enjoy art of every genre.”
The AHSTF was created 27 years ago as a way for performing arts students and directors to showcase their skills on an international stage. Over the years, the AHSTF has become an integral part of the greater Fringe community.
Experiencing Edinburgh during the Festival!
Street performers up and down the Royal Mile (and its environs), and theatre companies from around the world, perform everywhere – university lecture halls, alleyways, storefronts, and converted church basements or kitchens.
Productions run the gamut: stand-up comedians testing new material, experimental theatre, puppetry, physical theatre, children’s theatre, traditional plays/musicals, and brand new productions. At any given hour of the day, there are 3,000 shows to see. Four years ago, I was lucky enough to see SIX at the Fringe. This summer, I saw a completely sold out brand new musical that I’m sure will be making its rounds called “Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder,” as well as Ian McKellen in a ballet theatre production of “Hamlet.”
This is not your typical European sightseeing trip. Yes, there is sightseeing (first in London and then around Edinburgh including a one-day excursion to Stirling Castle and Loch Lomond), but this two-week long performance trip also includes workshops with theatre professionals, a college planning opportunity, and cultural experiences along with four scheduled performances on an international stage.
Technical skills are honed by working side-by-side with professional theatre technicians, and confidence grows by leaps and bounds through fundraising, marketing, writing, and performing. The students involved leave home as teens but they return as young adult international performing artists.
Cynthia Zhang, Ruby Cheng, JoJo Guo and Umran Yildiz may have arrived in Milpitas under similar circumstances with their partners relocating to the Bay Area for work.
But the four of them have different reasons why they enrolled in English As A Second Language (ESL) classes at Milpitas Adult Education (MAE), which offers beginner to advanced courses for adult learners.
“Our main goal is to help them reach their personal, career, health and financial goals that they have for themselves,” said Elsie Chandler, who has taught ESL to hundreds of adult learners in Milpitas over the last decade.
“Some want a new job; some want to get back into the profession they held in their home country; some want to be able to help their kids and grandkids with their homework; and some want to be more active at their children’s school,” Chandler added.
Zhang, 41, moved from Beijing, China to Milpitas with her husband and two daughters three years ago. She just enrolled in ESL in August for the first time, but tested into the advanced class. Shortly after her family’s arrival, the pandemic hit and she found very few opportunities to converse in English. At her home, the family communicates mostly in Mandarin.
“I was getting less confident in my English and wanted to be able to better communicate with others, and I also want to find a job,” said Zhang, knowing the importance of learning English to fulfill her aspirations. “This class is very interesting. I have learned so much already.”
Cheng, 42, of Berryessa, and Guo, of Fremont, both immigrated from Taiwan with their families after their husbands secured jobs in the Bay Area. Cheng, a mother of twin 7-year-old girls, was an engineer herself in Taiwan for more than 10 years. However, she spoke little English and felt her grasp of the language was worsening so she enrolled at MAE.
“[Mrs. Chandler] is so open-minded. We can discuss so many topics in class. It gives us a lot of chances to speak and talk to each other,” Cheng said. “Most of us want to get our English as good as native speakers. I think this is very good for accomplishing that.”
Guo, 40, is in her second year at MAE, although she took some classes while living in Michigan before coming here, and wants to attend community college once she graduates “because I want to own a small [baking] business and get a degree.”
“When we come to school, we are happy every day,” added Guo.
Yildiz, 34, whose last name translates to “star,” moved with her family from Turkey to Flagstaff, Arizona prior to arriving in Milpitas. Her husband found work at a university and has since moved to the private sector. She learned some English in Turkey and then online with Northern Arizona University so she was placed into MAE’s advanced class.
“I would like to improve my English because I want to be a kindergarten teacher,” shared Yildiz, who has school-aged children of her own. “In Milpitas, I really like it because we have so many friends in class and we talk and speak and discuss.”
Mrs. Chandler has 23 adult learners representing 10 different nationalities (Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Turkish, Indian, Mexican, Colombian, Venezuelan, Honduran, and Brazilian) in her advanced ESL class. All but one of them are parents of elementary and middle school students.
Now in their third week of school, they have been working on getting acquainted with each other; identifying their SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals for English acquisition; and sharing their personal interests, abilities, and skills to recognize jobs that interest them. In addition, they have learned how to identify the main idea of articles and paragraphs as well as the supporting details.
This week (Aug. 29-Sept. 2) they are collaborating in pairs on a presentation project, in which they will research a famous person they admire, develop the main points and supporting information to be presented, and then they will create Google Slides for their presentation.
“This project will help to build ESL students' confidence in speaking and presenting, as well as help build their vocabulary and grammar structures,” said Mrs. Chandler, who knew zero English when she immigrated with her family from Brazil as a teenager. “I can really relate and connect with them. I struggled my first year here.”
Mrs. Chandler sets aside time for Civics and Life Skills Units, where her students learn about workforce preparation, community service, good citizenship, job interview preparation, and also just how to talk with your doctor or teacher.
“The number one thing is building confidence. A lot of them come in very shy and unsure of themselves,” she added. “We do a lot of practice and activities to help build their confidence.”
Interested in exploring your own pathways to career or learning English? Know someone who is? Check out the Adult School website for registration information at adulted.musd.org.
Greetings to our Ayer High School Alumni!
We are excited to host tours of the Ayer Site Campus for all Ayer High School Alumni on Friday, September 16 at 3:30 p.m. We will meet in Building 200, Room 206 of the 1331 E. Calaveras Blvd campus to get started. Once you have checked in, you will be able to tour some of your former school buildings as well as see what the MUSD Innovation Campus has to offer the next generations of MUSD students and adult learners.
Please fill out the registration form, so we can make accommodations for all Ayer alumni who wish to visit the campus.
Spangler Elementary School fourth graders Ouchithya Yadam, Ghugan Sudarvannan and Shivangsh Roy raised nearly $70 selling their old toys and books at a garage sale over the summer.
The funds raised were not for them, however. Instead, the thoughtful student trio donated to…Spangler Elementary School.
“One day during the summer, my son came and told me that he wants to do a garage sale to sell his old toys and other stuff in front of the house and wants to donate all the money to the school,” shared Ouchithya’s mother Srinivas Yadam.
Once Ouchithya’s mother agreed, he recruited two of his friends and arranged the garage sale over a summer weekend. Together, they raised $68.17, by selling their toys and books for as little as 50 cents apiece.
“It really surprised me that the younger kids think like this to give something back to the school and understanding how schools are helping them to grow,” Srinivas, the parent of Ouchithya, said.
Their kind act is the Spangler way!
At only 14 years old, Milpitas High School freshman activist Nia Gupte, founder of CliMatter: Because Climate Change Matters, is already rubbing elbows with the likes of State Senator Dave Cortese, who has worked alongside Governor Newsom to pass climate legislation.
Gupte attended the Silicon Valley Youth Climate Action (SVYCA) Summit on August 6 in Cupertino, where she was able to make contacts with other student climate activists and exchange ideas on future endeavors.
SVYCA is a youth-led nonprofit that empowers teens and young adults to combat climate change with impactful education and policy initiatives. The all-day Climate Summit allowed young activists the opportunity to learn more about a wide range of vital environmental topics such as state legislation, green career options, environmental literacy and effective climate change action during a series of interactive workshops and educational speaker programs. Climate leaders from around Santa Clara County and elsewhere attended the event with local student leaders and city officials.
“I primarily learned about the different pieces of climate legislation that are being passed through the state, and how it impacts the environmental well-being of our state, as well as other states in the country,” Gupte shared. “There were workshops involving the impact plastics bring upon our environment. Clean-up opportunities were provided.”
During the Summit, students were divided into small groups, where they discussed further steps for climate action in the future. Gupte shared her work with CliMatter, which she developed to raise awareness for the environment and climate change.
“There are a lot more student activists in the county than one may assume, and I’d love to see the movement grow bigger,” she said.
In addition to CliMatter, Gupte is an Outreach Coordinator for the Milpitas HS Environmental Society, which is planning to host some climate change events this school year. She also runs cross country and plans to join the track and field team in the spring.
“I would like to thank the MUSD Board of Education and Superintendent Jordan for guiding me since I started CliMatter,” said Gupte, who introduced CliMatter to the community during a MUSD board meeting. “They have all offered their help, and provided me amazing opportunities to strengthen the initiative. I hope to continue with my efforts in climate change literacy.”
As a 2022 Summer School site for five different programs, Thomas Russell Middle School (TRMS) has got plenty of engaged students and passionate instructors on campus in July.
Inside Jaime Won’s classroom, rising 5th graders are learning to be entrepreneurs by creating their own products or services, naming their companies, pitching their ideas to investors, and devising marketing strategies.
“We made bracelets and bookmarks,” said 10-year-old Spangler Elementary student Hayden Lasqueti, who works with five of his summer classmates on designing their products as well as advertising posters for their company named Athena. “It’s been pretty fun.”
One door down in Nicole King’s classroom, rising 6th graders are researching the history of Milpitas and presenting a report on their findings in front of their fellow classmates. Meanwhile, rising 8th graders in Abraham Resngit’s classroom are finding their voice with help from folks at the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center, including Executive Director Dr. Roy Wilson.
“It teaches students how to develop their own voice while building public speaking and leadership skills,” said Mr. Resngit, whose students were joined by peers from outside of Milpitas for this particular lesson to share their perspectives on a variety of issues.
The five summer programs offered at TRMS this year include: Project Based Learning (6 classes); English As a Second Language (ESL) for Newcomers (2 classes); Extended School Year (ESY) for students with learning challenges or neurodiverse learners (5 classes); Summit Learning (1 class) and GirlStart (1 class). This summer, Milpitas Unified School District is serving approximately 175 students.
“PBL is so much fun for the students because there is always an end goal. Kids look at everything they do in terms of that end goal,” said Summer School Principal Andrew Dinh. “PBL allows them to know what the end goal is and creates buy-in from the students.”
Each student or student group finishes off Summer School with a presentation, which is “their time to shine,” Dinh added.
At Summer School, students begin as early as 8 a.m. depending on the program—each one designed to target a specific group of students based on need—and finish up as late as 12:15 p.m.
In addition to these summer programs, MUSD also offers its award-winning Love4Literacy for K-3, 9th Grade Bridge, EL A-G Courses and High School Credit Recovery. The funding sources supporting this programming includes Expanded Learning Opportunity Program and federal funding for low income and second language learners.
A pair of Milpitas Unified School District schools secured their leadership teams for the 2022-23 school year, with Emily DeLora-Ellefson joining Principal Sean Anglon at Thomas Russell Middle School and Ryan Startz joining Principal Nanci Pass at Alexander Rose Elementary School.
Both DeLora-Ellefson and Startz were introduced to the Milpitas community by Superintendent Cheryl Jordan after unanimous approval from the MUSD Board of Education at its June 28 meeting. The principals from each school site were in attendance to welcome their new admin colleagues.
DeLora-Ellefson spent the previous two years as a Special Education Program Manager with Morgan Hill Unified School District. She holds an Urban Education Leadership and Administrative Credential from CSU-East Bay and a M.A./M.S./M.ED. in Special Education from San Francisco State.
“What drew me to Milpitas in the first place is your culture of inclusion,” said DeLora-Ellefson, who learned of MUSD through interaction with Executive Director Mary Jude Doerpinghaus. “Tonight, I am just completely in awe and excited to begin this journey with your district.”
Startz, heading into her 18th year in education, comes to MUSD via the Mountain View Whisman School District, where she gained valuable experience as a Fifth Grade Team Leader as well as a Teacher On Special Assignment (TOSA) Instructional Coach at two different sites. She holds a M.A./M.S./M.ED. in Educational Administration from Grand Canyon University.
“I am absolutely honored and humbled to be chosen as the Assistant Principal at Rose Elementary School,” said Startz. “My leadership vision values the joyful education of the whole child through focusing on social-emotional growth, high expectations, and really celebrating the diversity of our community.”
As a Vice President of Finance for Oracle Corporation, a Fortune 100 technology company, Milpitas High School Class of 1992 alumnus Tom Nguyen is primarily responsible for financial planning and analysis, as well as certain strategic activities including mergers and acquisitions.
When he looks back on his time in Milpitas Unified School District, Nguyen, who attended Curtner and Spangler Elementary Schools and Rancho Milpitas Middle School, turns to the character traits of openness, compassion and empathy as guiding principles in his finance career.
“MUSD is a wonderful reflection of the culturally rich and diverse community it serves. I grew up around kids, parents and teachers who came from other countries, spoke multiple languages, and practiced various customs and faiths,” he recalled. “I came from a place of appreciating, celebrating, and respecting uniqueness. I think the most important aspect of a leader is the ability to relate to others.”
Prior to joining Oracle, Nguyen led finance teams at Palo Alto Networks, a leading cybersecurity company, for 7 years. Earlier, he held numerous finance leadership positions while at Cisco Systems and Apple after beginning his career with global financial consultancies EY and PWC. Nguyen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Business Administration from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Management.
One of his earliest MUSD inspirations came from the late Tom Carlton, a former MHS science teacher and long-distance running coach. “He was one of the first adults who treated me like an adult,” Nguyen shared. “He taught me how to take life seriously, while not taking myself too seriously.”
Nguyen took full advantage of everything MUSD had to offer, participating on the cross country and track teams; becoming an officer in student government; writing for the student newspaper; working on the yearbook; and various other student clubs.
“There’s really something for everyone, and it’s a great way to get to meet and know people in a positive environment,” said Nguyen, who holds fond memories from Honors and AP English classes. “Literature is the soul’s greatest form of expression and communication.”
For future generations of MUSD students, Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee, shared: “Every person has value and deserves their dignity. Remember, no one can make you feel inferior without your consent; never give it. Once you accept yourself, you'll find how easy it is to step into your own power."
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING:
The governing board of Milpitas Unified School District will hold a Public Hearing on Tuesday, June 28, 2022.